Andreas Gursky (German, born 1955)
Andreas Gursky is one of the very important figures of contemporary art in Germany and all around the world. He is famous for his colourful, large size and digitally manipulated photography. He describes contemporary culture through his art as he focuses on humans, views, and places. Andreas art revolves around large scale pictures, landscapes, departmental stores, etc. His most remarkable work is “Rhein II” and the following are “Paris, Montparnasse”, “99 cent II Diptych on” and “Pyongyang”. His most expensive photography work was “Rhein II” which was sold for $4.3 million in 2011, at Christie’s New York.
Gursky was born in 1955 in Leipzig and grew up in Düsseldorf, West Germany. He is the only son; his father and grandfather were commercial photographers. In starting he was not very interested in photography but after he changed his mind and studied photography in Essen at the Folkwang Academy of Arts during the late 1970s. During his study period at Flokwang academy, he worked as a taxi driver to support himself. After passing out from Folkwang academy he attempted to start his employment career in photojournalism but was not successful. So, he enrolled in Kunst Akademie Düsseldorf in the 1980s and became the student of Bernard Hilla Becher and a fellow student of Thomas Ruff.
Gursky ’s early work was highly influenced by the conceptual aesthetic philosophy of Beacher. He started white and black photography with a 4X5 inch camera, the same as her other fellow students. But only after one year, he moved towards colour photography and started working with a larger 4 × 5-inch (10.2 × 12.7-cm) camera on a tripod. His first published photograph was Gas Cocker (1980) by Andreas Gursky that depicts his signature style.
In the late 1980’s he produced large pictures; he was the first one who produced 6X8 feet large pictures. Paris Montparnasse is an example that describes his compositional strategies to comment on the realities of modern urban life. During 1987, he made his debut through a photography exhibition at the Düsseldorf Airport. In this exhibition, he displayed the photos of security staff in the lobbies of different office blocks of entire Germany. These photos were taken over four years.
After the 1990s his work took progress, and he started working on coloured, detailed and large-scale pictures that are focused on globalism and capitalism in a contemporary society like the 99 cents by Andreas Gursky and May Day Series. He merged multiple pictures of the same scene to create a beautiful repetition of elements that creates a dreamlike monumentality like “99 cent” (1990) which is also considered as the most influential images in the history of Art. Gursky describes “in retrospective, I can see that my desire to create abstractions has become more and more radical” he added, “Art should not be delivering a report but should be looking at what’s behind something.”
During the 1990s, He made working progress towards solo museum and gallery exhibitions and earned a fortune due to the increasing demand for photography internationally. At the end of the 1990s, he was able to take architectural photos by travelling all over the world. At the start of 2000, he started working on the employment of digital editing and retouching techniques and focused on using modern computing techniques to create large pictures.
He also worked as a professor during the period of 2010 – 2018 at Liberal Arts at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany. Gursky is still living in Düsseldorf with his wife and family, he shares a studio with Laurenz Berges, Axel Hütte, and Thomas Ruff his fellow photographers, at an electrical station that is renovated by well-known architects Herzog & de Meuron.
In 2011, he created a series of photographs from Chao Phraya River from above, in Bangkok. His focus on details like reflection, streams, and the play of light and shadow on the flowing river resulted in pictures that look like abstract paintings and satellite photographs alternative. He also reverted towards printing and exhibiting much smaller photographs to experience the perception and reaction of people, through the exhibition “Werke/Works 80–08” at the Vancouver Art Gallery during 2009.
Andreas is very fond of electronic music. He took photographs of raves, festivals, and clubs and played them while installing exhibitions. In an interview with Hawtin and Gursky, Andreas tells about music, he said “music is neither solely occurring the images nor is it a typical Richie Hawtin sound. It is much rather a soundscape and permeates the images in the most peculiar way, it feels as if, something is buzzing, something is breathing’’. He believes that the incorporation of music summonses people to spend more time viewing and contemplating his photographs.
Gursky is the winner of multiple photography awards and he has exhibitions at different major events, like at the Venice Biennale. Even though he started colour photography from the very start of his career, in recent years his art has become highly substantial. His first exhibition was in 1981 while in 1988 was his first solo show at Galerie Johnen & schottle.
Gursky’s thoroughgoing attention to detail in every part of the arrangement is a style for which he became known and celebrated. The Museum of Art in New York, The Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern in London have his works as their permanent collection.